Archive for May, 2009

That Awful Feeling…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, May 4, 2009

Lots of backstory I don’t have time to tell, but the sentiment in panel four is fairly universal.


ArtPrize… I Don’t Get It…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, April 27, 2009

ArtPrize was all the buzz here in West Michigan at the end of last month. Click the name for details, but in quick summary: There was a teaser build-up to a secret announcement from the grandson of Amway co-founder Rick DeVos. Mr DeVos promised something new and big that would be a tremendous boost to both the prestige and economy of West Michigan. The media frothed over the possibilities: a new movie studio was the leading guess, but most were pretty scattered. (It’s funny — up until a few years ago the universal guess in these parts would have been “automotive assembly plant.” Times change quickly.)

Turns out it will be an art competition to be held within the center of Grand Rapids in various public venues for a significant amount of money — top prize, $250,000. The reaction from many was what you might expect for something new and different — I don’t get it. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t entirely get it myself. But that’s are large part of the appeal — I’m looking forward to seeing what happens, participating in public voting, and hanging out downtown a bit more this summer and fall.

So for the comic, I grabbed various examples of art-ish stuff that had suffered similar initially dismissive reactions:

  • Painting. Piaccso. Actually, my favorite Picasso is Guernica (which is really an editorial cartoon), but it was too horizontal and I had moral issues with cropping it.
  • Dance. Martha Graham. This photo makes me think of my Grandmother Hallman, who was a dancer. Man, what I wouldn’t give to see a film clip of her when she was in vaudeville.
  • Film. Chaplin’s Modern Times. Actually my favorite Chaplin film is “The Great Dictator.” (The last scene when he makes his plea for humanity at the Nazi-like rally… sends chills every time.) However, an unstated rule of editorial cartooning is “don’t use a Hitler image unless you… you know what? Just never use a Hitler image.”
  • Architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright. Here’s the thing — I don’t like anything that he ever designed. I just don’t. But I thought it important to include something that many acknowledge as great, but I don’t appreciate.
  • Music. The Beatles. A more obvious choice here might have been to go with Sgt. Peppers. But by then, they were already widely praised. And if I were going with favorites, I would have used “Revolver.”

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USA National Doodle Day, Thursday, May 7th…

Auchter NF Doodle 2009

My friend Rosemary again asked me to participate in this year’s National Doodle Day, a fundraising event to benefit NF, Inc., an organization dedicated to providing support to individuals and families affected by neurofibromatosis (NF). Neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder that affects one in every 2,500 births. NF is more common than Cystic Fibrosis, Muscular Dystrophy and Huntington’s Disease combined. Funds raised from the Doodle Day auction will go to support education, advocacy, coalitions, and research for treatments and a cure. For more specifics and links, check out:

Various folks contribute a quick sketch or doodle, and these are auctioned off on eBay starting May 7th and closing May 17th. Check out the gallery:


The Kids Are Growing up …Quickly…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Family magazine, April 2009


Baseball, Busses, and Gluttony…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, April 20, 2009

Two West Michigan things you need to know:

  • Our minor league baseball team, the West Michigan Whitecaps, recently generated international media coverage with the introduction of a new sandwich at their home ballpark: the Fifth Third burger. (The ballpark is named after Fifth Third Bank, possibly the most confusing business name ever, but as it turns out, works well for a burger which has five 1/3 pound patties.) It was the perfect counter-story — that is, in these times of belt-tightening and prudent behavior, folks around the world seemed delighted to be presented with an ostentatious display of gluttony.
  • Next Tuesday we’ll be heading to the polls to vote on a millage for a new high-speed bus route, the Silver Line. Like all initial efforts in public transportation, it seems like a clumsy idea and potentially wasteful. Until it’s there and people start to use it, then it will be great and seem like it’s always been there.

And here’s something that you really don’t need to know, but I’m going to tell you anyway. The last time I recall overeating to the point of physical pain was when I was a sophomore in college — during the last week of school the dorm cafeteria had Italian Food night. After a year of Salisbury steak doused in A1 sauce and the quality of salad fixins you’d expect to find in Houghton, Michigan in 1983 (not good, not good), I had no self-control. I ate twice my body weight and maybe one of my own fingers. I remember barely getting back to my 5th floor room and falling like a wounded cow on to the floor. I wanted to throw up but feared the pressure would be so great that my digestive tract would be turned inside-out. After a couple of hours I was finally able move around again. Yeech! So, no, I won’t be ordering a Fifth Third burger anytime soon.